Date: 2007-08-31 10:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lordsaphon.livejournal.com
This is a really good post... I don't think I've seen someone put into specific words the feelings that I tend to feel.

I always loved Resident Evil, but the restricted save thing bugged the bejeezus out of me. That's why I like RE4 so much, that they took that aspect out.

I'm interested in the other 4 too... any chance you can post a link when she puts them up?

Date: 2007-08-31 10:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] julzerator.livejournal.com
Sure! I will definitely share the link... it is too nifty not to.

Date: 2007-08-31 10:58 pm (UTC)

Date: 2007-08-31 11:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nbarnes.livejournal.com
The people over at Bethesda need to keep #2 in mind when making more Elder Scrolls games. I am SO TIRED of requiring > 30 mouse clicks to barter for the price of one piece of trash loot.

Date: 2007-08-31 11:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theonlymegumegu.livejournal.com
Hmm, while I'm not trying to contradict 2, I hope the author has been told there *is* a "sell all of item X" option in Etrian Odyssey... ^^;; I have a feeling they thought, as I did, that the button sells *all* your inventory, when in reality, it sells all of the item you have highlighted. I do think there should be some sort of auto avoid for fights you really don't need to play (like a group of lvl 50 characters still triggering random battles in a lvl 1 creature area...).

Avoiding fights

Date: 2007-09-01 12:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zargon.livejournal.com
What's needed for that is basically setting up everyone in your party with a default attack action (swing that weapon!) and an option "Attack Everything In Sight With Previously Set Up Default Attack" somewhere at the top level. Usually by about level 3 you should be able to take on level 1 encounters without needing to micro-manage.

I played some lame game yonks ago where I got to the point where I could take on anything on the first level with narry a scratch but the first step I took in the next level down I got *SLAUGHTERED*. It was back to the first level and innumerable encounters that were just too damn easy to be bothered with, but still needed micromanaging every step of the way. Not really that much fun.

Date: 2007-09-01 02:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neoliminal.livejournal.com
"7. Black box mechanics"

I actually completely disagree with this assessment. Some players like to play game mechanics and some like to play game spirits.

For example, if there were a baseball simulation where team that wore pink got a bonus... every player who knew this would have pink outfits. But if this were not "known"... and there was a story element about "the pink team", then someone might play the pink team even though they would get ragged on for doing it.

My point here is that knowing how the game works on the backend is perfect for some people and pure hatred for others. I don't like the idea that some geek spent 20 days with an excel spreadsheet figuring out the exact mix of pikemen, archers, and knights. I want to command my troops and give orders... I don't want to know attack values and defensive values. That takes away from the genre.

You think Sun Tzu knew the blood pressure of his troops?

Date: 2007-09-01 07:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wakko.livejournal.com
Umm... I think you've missed his point.

He says that there's two levels of information that players look for, and they're both important.

He hasn't said that one is better than another. He didn't say that one is more vital than another. He wasn't talking about replacing one with the other.

All he's pointing out is that *both* are important, and that there has been a trend to not provide both sets of information.

It's the Final Fantasy syndrome. Most recent Final Fantasy games (especially XI) go out of their way to give you zero information about the underlying mechanics. This is seriously flawed game design and creates games that can be more frustrating than fun.

I don't want to spend two hours empirically testing if weapon A does more damage than weapon B simply because the game doesn't tell me that weapon A does 5 points of damage and weapon B does 10 points of damage.

Date: 2007-09-01 11:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neoliminal.livejournal.com
There are two levels of information and I don't think I've missed his point.

I think there are two levels of information and I think there are two types of players. You are the type who is going to sit and try to empirically test weapons for hours. I'm the type that picks the one that looks cool. I'm not degrading you're style of playing when I say that there is a market for BOTH types of games.

There's a history in th US of D&D players who enjoy playing the mechanics of the game. Magic; The Gathering also has this type of player. They enjoy attempting to make the most power combination of rule mechanics work in tandem to create the most power character/unit/player. I call these Mechanic Player (although the mean term is Min/Maxers.)

But there's another group of players out there who simply don't care about how many "hit point" a spell does or if their deck filling with all the cards by a particular artist has a killer MtG combination. Genre Players (the mean term is LARPers, I guess).

You don't want to sped hours testing weapons A and B, neither do I. I pick the one that looks cool and start hacking away.

Date: 2007-09-02 06:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wakko.livejournal.com
Exactly. We agree that they exist.

All Soren was pointing out is that there has been a recent trend in video games to NOT serve both types of players. Serving as much of your customer base as possible is a vital part of any business. Video games are no different.

So, allowing players to choose the amount of mechanical information they want is a vital part of game design.

Date: 2007-09-03 01:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neoliminal.livejournal.com
But allowing some players to access this information while knowing that other players will choose not to know is putting the second group at a disadvantage in multiplayer game.

Allowing players to have access to the information means all players will access the information even if they would have enjoyed the game more without the knowledge.

Date: 2007-09-03 05:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wakko.livejournal.com
I don't agree with your assumptions.

My experience has been that each player chooses different things.

Some players are content with playing at a disadvantage in order to maintain their level of involvement. To some, that can still be fun.

Some players may prioritize competitiveness, and use all available information to gain a tactical advantage. To them, that's fun.

Some players don't like competition at all, and will stick to the single player campaigns, or bot-based multiplayer, where they have more control over the difficulty of the opponent. This is how they have fun.

Ultimately gameplay is about fun. Everyone makes an active choice to play the game the way that is most fun to them. To restrict a style of play, is to restrict the ability of somebody to enjoy the game.

Attempting to tightly control the play experience means drastically restricting your possible market of players. If nothing else, that simply is not a good business decision.

Date: 2007-09-03 07:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neoliminal.livejournal.com
Agreed.

I think we are 95% in agreement here. The only sticking point is that I think there should be more "black box" games. Perhaps that's an opinion I hold because of my background in game design and in my particular sense of enjoyment.

You name a game, I've probably played it. From min/max Car Wars spreadsheets to Diceless Amber Roleplaying LARPS. I love games. Personally I find the mechanics get in the way of most game play. There are already a ton of games where you DO need to know every detail to play them competitively (CoreWars, C+ Robots, The Open Racing Car Simulator). When I play these games I *really* get into the numbers and the rule because that's what you are playing with.

But if I'm playing WarHammer and the opponent pulls out his calculator to figure out how many Elves will die from his Empire's bow volley it kinda takes the fun out. Hey General! Just tell them to fire or not! You don't have a calculator or know the world is run by d6.

An... I went too far. I was trying to agree with you and I went all rant. Sorry. :-(

Date: 2007-09-03 09:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wakko.livejournal.com
No worries. I *do* agree with you that certain people take the fun out of games.

For me, the ruining factor is the people and not the game.

Black box games have their place. I loved all of the old Infocom text adventures (Zork, Planetfall, etc) and Sierra's series of adventure games (King's Quest, Space Quest, etc). These are games that only work as black boxes because the whole point is figuring out how something works.

However, I see a difference between a game whose whole point is to be a black box, and games that shoehorn themselves into being a black box for some largely false premise that gamers want less UI.

IMO, most gamers want a UI that makes sense and allows you to perform tasks efficiently. However, some games are simply complex enough that making a good UI is very hard. (Romance of the Three Kingdoms comes to mind)

I personally think that cutting out the UI in the name of simplicity is intellectually lazy. Creating a good, useful UI that ends up being simple is a long, involved design process.

Believe me, I have the same frustration with munchkin gamers as you do. However, you can't solve a people problem with game design.

Hell, if you could solve people problems with arbitrary rules, politicians all over the world would actually have a useful job. But that's another rant entirely. ;-)

Date: 2007-09-03 09:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neoliminal.livejournal.com
There is a difference between simple UI and elegant UI. I think he's probably talking about the former. You are right that dumbing down a UI simply for the sake of simplicity is bad.

The other side of this is information. Do you really need to know how many points of damage a sword does? Wouldn't it be enough to just know it was dangerous? I guess too many games are based on leveling... and that leads to needing better and better things. A first level sword wont do for a 10th level player.

Date: 2007-09-03 09:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wakko.livejournal.com
Do you really need to know how many points of damage a sword does? Wouldn't it be enough to just know it was dangerous?

Unfortunately, you'll never find a video game that works like that. Computers are number crunching machines. They don't handle concepts like "dangerous" or "benign".

So, while we can hide or abstract away the numbers, they're still lurking inside the game, just below the surface.

There are plenty of games that don't require exposing the raw data to the user. However, it's almost impossible to find a non-abstract computerized strategy game that doesn't involve some sort of number crunching.

This is, perhaps, where there is the most trade-off and the most difficulty. This is also where Soren was focusing his argument.

A strategy game shouldn't be a black box.

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